Jeffords backs clean air amendment to energy bill

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(Host) The U.S. Senate takes up amendments on Wednesday to an energy bill pushed by Republicans. The bill is supposed to make it easier to produce domestic sources of energy. But critics say it doesn’t do enough to control air pollution that contributes to acid rain and climate change.

Vermont Independent Senator James Jeffords backs an amendment that would roll back the Bush administration’s changes to air pollution regulations. The amendment has the support of environmental groups and state regulators, but it’s opposed by many industry groups.

Jeffords says that without the amendment, Vermont and New England will see little improvement in the dirty air that drifts into the region from the Midwest.

(Jeffords) “The Northeast and New England in particular are the victims of so much pollution that drifts up or across the country from the coal-fired power plants. What the Bush administration is attempting to do is merely say, if you don’t want it, you don’t have to. It would be a great disaster for Vermont, in that sense.”

(Host) The administration’s plan would allow companies to avoid adding modern pollution controls when they upgrade their plants. Jeffords’ amendment would allow states to continue to use the tougher standards.

It’s one of several hundred amendments to the comprehensive energy bill.

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